Further US air strikes expected on Islamic extremists

MORE air strikes are expected by US forces on Islamic State extremists in northern Iraq as Britain prepared to launch air drops to help starving refugees fleeing militants.

Two rounds of strikes were launched yesterday after President Barack Obama authorised force against groups near Irbil in north-eastern Iraq.

In the first, warplanes hit artillery forces near the city defended by Kurdish forces and close to where US personnel are based. In a second attack, an unmanned drone and four fighter jets hit a convoy outside the city. Officials said the convoy was destroyed.

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Following a meeting in Whitehall of the Government’s Cobra emergencies committee, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said Britain was ready to provide “technical assistance” to support US humanitarian operations in the region.

He said he hoped British air-drops targeting members of the Yazidi religious minority trapped on a mountainside could begin in the “next couple of days”.

“We are offering aid of our own which we hope to drop over the next couple of days in support of the American relief effort, particularly to help the plight of those who are trapped on the mountain,” he said.

Earlier, David Cameron insisted the world must help Yazidis in their “hour of desperate need” as he backed Mr Obama’s decision to respond to a request by the Iraqi government for targeted air strikes.

He said: “I am extremely concerned by the appalling situation in Iraq and the desperate situation facing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.”